Europe Takes Next Step on UAV Regulations

2015-12-28

Europe Takes Next Step on UAV Regulations
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has taken the next step in developing a regulatory framework for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with the publication of its “technical opinion” on the safe use of unmanned aircraft in Europe’s airspace.

The technical opinion sets the direction to be followed for all future work to be done to ensure UAVs are operated safely. It will also serve as guidance for those European Union member states that currently have no rules for small unmanned aircraft, or plan to modify their existing ones, to ensure as much consistency as possible across the continent.

Unmanned aircraft and the technological innovations they bring are changing quickly the landscape for aviation, EASA executive director Patrick Ky said. The agency proposals ensure safety remains a priority while allowing proportionality and flexibility for new innovations.

The technical opinion includes 27 proposals for a regulatory framework for operating all unmanned aircraft, irrespective of their mass. The proposals focus more on how UAVs will be used rather than their physical characteristics. The proposal establishes three categories of operation: open, specific and certified with different safety requirements for each, proportionate to the risk.

Most UAV usage will belong to the open category, which is foreseen for operations with limited safety risk, requiring a minimum amount of safety rules, overseen by law enforcement agencies. One key measure for this category will be limitation zones—geographical areas in which use of UAVs will be limited or not allowed at all.

To prevent unintended flight in restricted flight zones, geo-fencing of areas by means of built-in electronic limitations is foreseen.

EASA will now work on the most appropriate set of toolsdevelopment of rules, guidance material or safety promotiondepending on what is more appropriate to each category in order to meet the overall objective to ensure safety while letting innovation develop.



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